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Another Barrier Removed When No One Else Could Help

 

The Icla da Silva Foundation goes the ‘extra mile’ to ensure that another life is saved.

Young Herzel was inspired to become a nurse after surviving thyroid cancer in 2017. The remarkable care that she received as a patient impacted her greatly, and she enrolled in nursing school with a desire to help others.

But while preparing for her exam to become a Certified Dialysis Nurse, Herzel was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).

A bone marrow transplant was her only chance for a cure, and there were no matching donors for her on the registry.

Finding a Donor

The bone marrow transplant team at New York-Presbyterian / Weill Cornell Medical Center acted fast to test her brother Reggie back in the Philippines as a potential donor.

Luckily, he was a 100% match.

However, this fantastic news still presented a barrier.

Herzel is a smart, hard-working young woman. Although she was unable to maintain her employment during so many visits and treatments at the hospital, she kept her living expenses low and paid her bills on time.

But the expense to bring her brother to the U.S., so he could transplant his stem cells, was unaffordable at the moment. Her savings had already been depleted.

She didn’t know what to do. Her doctors wanted to schedule the transplant as soon as possible.

No organization was able to fund international travel for her donor.

Removing Barriers

A social worker at New York-Presbyterian contacted the Icla da Silva Foundation. After gathering and organizing the necessary paperwork, and thanks to the generous supporters of the Foundation, not only did we provide the funds, we made the flight reservations.

Within days, this life-threatening financial barrier was removed and Herzl’s brother arrived in New York for the donation. The transplant was successful and Reggie saved his sister’s life. They spent a few days together before he returned home to the Philippines.

Giving Back

The gift of life that Herzel received only strengthened her desire to help others.

She passed her nursing exams and recently began working for the NYC Department of Health. Herzel is thankful for the support that she received and has applied to Volunteer for the Icla da Silva Foundation.

We asked Herzel what she would say to the donors who made her brother’s trip possible.

“I want to thank everyone for giving me this opportunity to live a healthy life again. I couldn’t be any more grateful for the Icla da Silva Foundation. I want to help the Foundation as much as I can so other patients like me can have the same opportunity for life.”

You can help us support more patients like Herzel. Your donation will remove barriers for patients needing a bone marrow or cord blood transplant.

Your donation will save lives.

DONATE today

Written by: Bret Itskowitch

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Rhynett’s 2nd Battle With Cancer

More than 25 years ago, Rhynett Chatman was diagnosed with cancer. She fought that battle and was fortunate to survive.

Now she is fighting cancer once again.

In May of 2017, she was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). MDS is a form of blood cancer which prohibits the body from producing enough healthy blood cells in the bone marrow.

Rhynett told us that she always felt tired, and she lost a considerable amount of weight. Despite chemotherapy and numerous blood transfusions, there was no improvement in her condition.

Most Recent Diagnosis

Recently, her diagnosis was changed to Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). There was a definitive overproduction of immature blood cells in her bone marrow. AML quickly gets worse if it is not treated immediately.

Doctors advised Rhynett that she would need a bone marrow transplant in order to survive.

Searching for a Match

For African American patients with various blood cancers like leukemia, finding a matching bone marrow donor is a difficult task. The chances of finding a match on the national registry are only 23%. There simply aren’t enough Black donors on the registry. For comparison, White patients have a 77% chance of finding a matching donor on the registry.

We are trying to change this unfortunate fact.

The Icla da Silva Foundation is the largest recruitment center for the Be the Match registry. Our efforts are focused specifically on adding more diversity to the list of potential donors.

We are trying to help Rhynett find a matching donor by holding donor drives. We share her story, explain the need, and provide details on joining the registry and donating stem cells if you match a patient in need.

Anyone between the ages of 18-40 can join the registry at no cost.  If you match a patient, they don’t even use your insurance to perform the transplant.  Be the Match takes care of everything.

To join the registry in support of Rhynett, please click this link:

join the registry

Rhynett’s Search for a Donor

Unfortunately, there is no matching donor in her family. And there is no match for her on the national registry.

Not yet.

We are doing everything we can to share her story and enable more people to join the registry on her behalf.

Rhynett tells us that her body hurts. “I get tired easily. I have been receiving blood transfusions for months now…it’s all very overwhelming, but God is in control”.

She is grateful for the support of her friends and family. She is also thankful for her church family at the Northside Church of Christ in Jacksonville, Florida. She has been worshipping at Northside since she was 14 years old.

She Has Faith

Despite her battle with this life-threatening disease, Rhynett has faith that God will provide.

She enjoys reading, traveling, and singing. She has traveled and sung extensively, trying to be an encouragement and a blessing to the Brotherhood of her church. She loves singing and spreading the “Good News” through the gift that God has blessed her with.

Rhynett sang for many years with her church group Total Praise, as well as the Northside Acappella Mass Choir.

“Singing has always been the thing that kept me motivated and content. I miss it so much.”

Unfortunately, chemotherapy has affected her vocal cords.

Join the Registry

Please help us in Rhynett’s search to find a matching bone marrow donor. Join the registry. After clicking the link, follow the prompts to create an account and register to become a potential donor.

You can also help us spread the word by sharing Rhynett’s story.

join the registry

“I know if you can help in any way, you will. May God bless each of you for your kind hearts and loving spirits.”

-Rhynett Chapman

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Olga – Todavía Me Necesitan

Ellos Todavía La Necesitan

Olga está luchando contra el cáncer por segunda vez. Ella fue diagnosticada por primera vez con leucemia en el 2016, y entró en remisión. En 2018, luchó durante meses con cansancio, dolores de cabeza constantes y hematomas extraños. En marzo, le diagnosticaron AML, leucemia mieloide aguda. El AML es un cáncer de la sangre y la médula ósea y en general, empeora rápidamente si no se trata. Su mejor oportunidad de sobrevivir es un trasplante de médula ósea.

Olga es madre de tres hijos y abuela de dos nietos. Tiene 52 años. Su familia emigró hace 15 años de su pueblo pequeño, San Buenaventura, en Coahuila, México. Vinieron buscando un mejor tratamiento para su hija Betty, que padecía de una deficiencia crónica de crecimiento. Tomó 8 años para que Betty se recuperara y para entonces, habían formado una vida aquí.

Ella ha estado casada por 30 años. Su esposo, Jesús, trabaja en la construcción y es el sostén principal de la familia. “Trabajaba en la tienda de segunda mano de mi madre en México, pero desde que llegamos aquí me he quedado en casa para cuidar de los niños y la casa,” dijo ella. No poder cuidar de su hogar es lo que más le frustra a Olga de tener cáncer, ella siempre está cansada. La familia se mudó aquí hace 15 años para buscar ayuda para su hija y ahora las cosas han cambiado. Betty dejó su trabajo para cuidar a su madre a tiempo completo.

Una temperatura elevada y un recuento bajo de glóbulos blancos hacen que Olga regrese al hospital, con Betty a su lado día y noche. “No fue así la primera vez”, dijo Olga. “Siento que me dan de alta solamente para dar la vuelta y regresar”. Ha sido hospitalizada muchas veces desde que recibió su segundo diagnóstico en marzo del 2018.

Olga no tiene seguro médico y le dijeron que las únicas opciones para el tratamiento eran el MD Anderson Center en Houston, o buscar asistencia médica en México. La historia de la familia con el sistema médico en México es lo que los llevó aquí en primer lugar. “Aquí trabajan contigo si no puedes pagar de inmediato“, dijo Betty. “En México, si no tienes el dinero por adelantado, no recibes tratamiento“.

Se Necesita Un Pueblo

La familia está agradecida por la ayuda que han estado recibiendo. Estaban agradecidos de encontrar un médico del Medical City Dallas Hospital en Dallas, Texas, que aceptó realizar el procedimiento una vez que se encuentra un donante compatible. La Fundación Icla da Silva está ayudando a la familia realizar pruebas de compatibilidad a los hermanos y hermanas de Olga tanto en los Estados Unidos como en México. Solamente alrededor del 30 por ciento de los pacientes encontrarán un donante compatible dentro de su familia. El otro 70 por ciento recurre al registro Be The Match para encontrar un donante compatible. La compatibilidad se basa en proteínas o marcadores de HLA (antígeno leucocitario humano) que se encuentran en casi todas las células del cuerpo. Ayudan al sistema inmune a identificar las células que pertenecen, y provocan las defensas del sistema inmune del cuerpo. Los tipos de HLA son heredados y personas de la misma ascendencia étnica suelen ser más compatible.

Desafortunadamente, las minorías están subrepresentadas en el registro, lo que hace que sea más difícil para esos pacientes encontrar un donante compatible. El equipo de Icla da Silva se enfoca en cambiar este desafortunado hecho y continuamos realizando campañas de donación de médula en todo el país en un intento de educar y agregar más diversidad al registro Be The Match.

Olga tiene fe en que encontrará una donante compatible y ella se recuperará. Refiriéndose a su familia, “todavía me necesitan“, dice ella, “Dios me da fuerza“.

Únete al registro para ayudar a Olga u otro de los 14,000 pacientes que buscan un donante.

ÚNETE AL REGISTRO

 

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Olga’s Story – They Still Need Me

They Still Need Her

Olga is battling cancer for the second time. She was first diagnosed with leukemia in 2016, and went into remission. In 2018, she struggled for months with chronic fatigue, constant headaches and strange bruising. In March, she was diagnosed with AML, acute myeloid leukemia. AML is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow and usually gets worse quickly if not treated. Her best chance of survival is a matching bone marrow transplant.

Olga is a 52-year-old mother of three and grandmother of two. Her family emigrated to the Dallas area fifteen years ago from a small-town named San Buenaventura, in Coahuila, Mexico. They came seeking better treatment for their daughter Betty, who was suffering from a chronic growth deficiency. It took 8 years for Betty to recover and by then, they had formed a life here.

She has been married for 30 years. Her husband Jesus works in construction and is the primary breadwinner for the family. “I used to work at my mom’s second-hand store in Mexico, but since we got here I’ve stayed home to care for the children and the house,” she said. Not being able to care for their home is what frustrates Olga the most about having cancer, she is always tired. The family moved here 15 years ago to seek help for their daughter and now the tables have turned. Betty has quit her job in order to care for her mother full-time.

An elevated temperature and low white blood cell count has Olga back in the hospital, with Betty at her bedside. “It wasn’t like this the first time,” said Olga. “I feel like they keep releasing me just so I can turn around and come right back.” She has been hospitalized many times since receiving her second diagnosis in March of 2018.

Olga has no health insurance and they have been told that the only options for treatment were the MD Anderson Center in Houston, or to seek medical assistance in Mexico. The family’s history with the medical system in Mexico is what led them here in the first place. “Here they work with you if you can’t afford to pay right away,” she said. “In Mexico, if you don’t have the money upfront, you won’t receive treatment.”

It Takes A Village

The family is thankful of the help they have been receiving. They were grateful to find a doctor from Medical City Dallas Hospital in Dallas, Texas, who agreed to perform the procedure once a compatible donor is found. The Icla da Silva Foundation is helping the family by testing Olga’s brothers and sisters in both the United States and in Mexico. Only about 30 percent of patients will find a match within their family. The other 70 percent turn to the Be The Match registry to find a matching donor. Compatibility is based on HLA (human leukocyte antigen) proteins or markers found on almost all cells in the body. They help the immune system identify self-cells from non-self-cells, which trigger the bodies immune response. HLA types are inherited and finding a compatible match increases with people of the same ethnic ancestry.

Unfortunately, minorities are underrepresented on the registry, making it more difficult for those patients to find a matching donor. The Icla da Silva team is focused on changing this unfortunate fact and we continue to hold marrow drives throughout the country in an attempt to educate and add more diversity to the Be The Match registry.

Olga has faith that a match will be found and she will recover. Referring to her family, “they still need me,” she says, “God gives me strength.”

Please join the registry to help Olga or one of the other 14,000 patients searching for their match.

join the registry

 

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